This is not typical mommyblogger fare, but I've been entrenched in a history book and I cannot get out of it. And I don't want to. I'm fixated.
If you grow up with a dad like mine, you learn a few things about wars - ancient, modern, worldwide and obscure - whether you're interested or not. For the most part I was (am) not. I tuned out conversations about Gettysburg, ignored reading recommendations on WWI, begged to be excused from visiting battlefields, did not pay the slightest attention when we drove by pillboxes or memorials or various war leftovers and ruins of fortifications (which there are quite a lot of in Northern Italy and Austria and Bavaria, where we did a lot of traveling.)
As I've gotten older I've developed an interest in the time periods of WWI and WWII. I love books set during wartime (especially English detective series, be still my heart); I love the TV shows and movies (Foyle's War, Downton Abbey). But I haven't been all that interested in the mechanics of the wars themselves. Hopefully not because I'm shallow and uncurious, but it's like when I read that Churchill biography - all that political and military strategy makes my eyes glaze over.
What I have been interested in, since I was a little kid, is the Holocaust. Judging from the heaps of middle grade fiction books about the Holocaust I don't think that's so unusual. (And I read all of them.) But I've always felt a little... well, like that piece of history is especially nervewracking to me. I can't remember the context of this conversation at all, but I remember my dad telling me that our family would have been sent to a concentration camp. "But I'm not Jewish!" I think I said, and my dad, who is Jewish, and who remembers relatives with numbers tattooed on their arms, and who had a much better understanding than my elementary-school-aged self, said, "But that wouldn't have mattered to Hitler!"
So began my overly empathetic relationship to all number of tragedies - the plight of German Jews was just my specialty. First I was obsessed with what would have happened to me, if not for the year and location of my birth. And what sort of person would I have been? Brave? Probably not. The more I read the more ammo for my imagination, the more existential crises. Just in the last year or so I read that book about the couple who hides Jews in the zoo in Poland (true story) and oh God could I have done that?
I have no idea why I started reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Well, actually, I do. Sometimes I like to read history and it was only $2.99 on the Kindle. Plus I like to at least APPEAR well-informed in front of my father. Sometimes. So I downloaded the sample and only a few pages in I knew I would be buying the book. It's a horror story. Literally. I can't tear my eyes away.
And the thing is, I've been reading this book for a week now and the war hasn't even started yet! I think this is what's most horrifying to me. I thought I knew the story, but I didn't, not really. The war hasn't even started yet and I am gobsmacked by the "rise", which was so easy, so swift, so unproblematic, so helped along by all the people who should have stopped it. THIS political and military strategy is unbelievable. It really is. I keep having to remind myself that THIS HAPPENED. I keep asking myself HOW DID THEY LET THAT HAPPEN?
I sort of wish I were reading, say, a really excellent YA novel that all the rest of you were interested in and totally wanted to read instead of this ginormous book (seriously, the Kindle says I'm only 30% done) with loads of footnotes. I'm sorry. I DO have other things on my mind, but this is the thing that I want to write down. I feel depressed and fatalistic and Phillip is annoyed with me because he wants to talk about his business trip but I have Hitler on the brain. I had to make chocolate chip cookies to feel better. HITLER IS MAKING ME GAIN WEIGHT.
I just... I want people to be better than that. Are they? Am I?